The Sound of Garuda: Mixed By Gareth Emery

Mark Pledger - Interview

We chat to Mark Pledger about his famous school mates,
chances of a Smith & Pledger reunion and you guessed it... LIGHT SABERS! 

01.Let’s start at the beginning… how long have you been DJ’ing and Producing, and how did it all start for you?

From a very early age I listened to a mixture of music that not only inspired me but made me want to make my own tracks. I started learning keyboards and recording covers of TV and film soundtracks on my teachers Atari with Cubase. From then on I was recording music and playing it out at live venues, but mainly rock based stuff at that time. After a unsuccessful record contract with London Records, while at college, I then managed to get work experience for 2 days a week in their A&R department with Pete Tong and Lisa Loud. It was then that I was exposed to dance music...just one year before the explosion of Trance in 1997.

With all this behind me I went to university to study a commercial music degree in the hope to form another band or develop a role in business. However, with two drummers on the course this was a problem. In the first year of Uni I shared a flat with Jono Grant from Above & Beyond. After quickly forming a friendship he helped me decide on a yamaha sampler, so essentially I could make my own drums!

The purchase of this cool new toy inevitably meant that my music quickly took on an electronic edge. Numerous epic nights out at Gatecrasher (Sheffield) nurtured a new alternative to my traditional classical and rock roots: Trance. With so many sounds, and no pressure to conforming to just a traditional instrument, the creative opportunities were endless, something I have never taken for granted since.

In my third year of University I met Oliver Smith and collaborated and signed tracks to our friends at Anjunabeats as Smith & Pledger amongst other alias's. Then after many successful releases behind us we turned to the decks in 2003 to become producer DJ's and started touring!

02.What would we typically find in a teenage Mark pledger’s Bedroom?

Lots of Light Sabers, Keyboards & Guitars, the perfect combination of sounds!

03.These days you mostly work as a solo musician, why the break from “Smith & Pledger”

We are both pursuing solo careers after Oliver's move from London to Amsterdam, ironically like our remix.

04.Any chance of a Reunion project?

There are no plans at the moment, but you never know now he is back on English soil!

05.You’ve also had major success collaborating with the lovely “Melinda Gareh” not only on your solo projects, but also as “White Water” And “Smith & Pledger”… where and how did you discover her?

Melinda Gareh was also a student and friend at Westminster. She has a very strong voice that gives off the sort of subtle yet intense emotion that I look for in vocal tracks.

06.You’re very involved in Anjunabeats’ worldwide radio show… tell us a bit about your preparation for the show, and how you select new tracks?

I listen to all promos on the worst speakers possible so if the production still sounds good and the ideas come across, then thats a potential track for the show. If it ticks the boxes and has real emotion or a satisfying feeling behind it, then it's good music.

07.You’ve collaborated with some of the Trance Scene’s finest Producers, including Mike Koglin, Oliver Smith, Matt Hardwick and Super8 & Tab, which has been your favourite and why?

Well I have enjoyed working with all of them for different reasons so I would not like to choose. But I've spent most studio time with Mr Oliver Smith, and so will always look very fondly on those years!

08.Anyone you would love to work with in the future?
Well it's funny you say that, but someone I've been hoping to do a track with has come my way, so more about that in the near future! For a weird experimental one I would love to do a single with Tom York from Radiohead or Massive Attack

09.What is there to know about Mark Pledger, that we don’t already know?

I like Scuba diving & drinking 'Fizzy Bubbly' in the sun!

10.Best Gig you’ve played to date?

Well I think I would need a crowd noise detector to work that out :) Auckland in New Zealand was one of the best despite being severely tired after playing dates in Australia without any sleep. The crowd were really up for it and I think it was their energy that made me feel so awake. Every mix went down well and was a fantastic event to close the tour. I remember getting to the hotel before the gig thinking I have one hour, do I sleep or do I eat? So I slept for one hour and then took some of the contents of the mini bar and had them backstage: Walker's crisps and Cadbury's chocolate all washed down with Red Bull. Yuk what a combination, but did the trick!
Check out the Youtube video and see it yourself, of the gig not the junk food!

Auckland - New Zealand

11.Any Embarrassing DJ Stories?

Oh there are many but I've been paid off to keep them quiet :-) However one that I can tell you about is the time this weird Russian DJ took over from my set telling me I'm playing till 3am only. The promoter came up to me at the bar and said, "who is that guy? Your supposed to be playing for another half hour!" It turns out he was some random in the crowd that blagged himself into the backstage. I hadn't a clue who was working for the club or who was DJing that night!

12.What can we expect from Mark Pledger in the near and distant future?

A lot of things are happing at the moment with new singles, debut album on the way and new business ventures in progress. I have recently worked with Kyler England to make a new vocal sensation called 'I Wanna Feel'. The track has a house meets trance vibe, and at 132 bpm is a much slower track to most of my productions. Up next is my collaboration with Rake and Sabrina titled 'Spinning Around'. Its a cool emotional rollacoaster of classical trance blended with techy melodies and percussion.

So keep your eyes peeled and your ears tuned for a selection of wide-ranging melodic dance music.


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